- Travel Guide
- - Hanging Monastery
- - Huayan Monastery
- - Nine Dragon Screen
- - Shanhua Monastery
- - The Wooden Pagoda
- - Yungang Grottoes
Located on the west cliff of Jinlong Vallay at the foot of Heng Mountain as the key culture relics under state protection, the Hanging Monastery is 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Datong City center, which is the only unique existing Monastery that combines the Confucianism, the Taoism and the Buddhism as one, with the statues of Confucius, Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C.-476 B.C.), and Buddha Sakyamuni placed in the same temple.
Built in the Northern Wei Period (386 A.D.-534 A.D.) with a history of more than 1,400 years, the Hanging Monastery faces south with a steep cliff above and a deep valley below. The wood-structured Monastery covers a total area of 52.5 square meters (63 square yards) with 40 rooms of different sizes, and there are: the Worshipping Hall, the temple, Tri-Buddha Hall, Guanyu Temple, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, the Thousand-Handed Bodhisattva Hall and Chunyang Hall in the monastery.
The main features of the Hanging Monastery
The Hanging Monastery is more than 50 meters (164 feet) high above the ground with the traditional architectural style, and the characteristics of the monastery can be summarizes as: wonderful, hanging and ingenious.
The wonderful characteristic is represented by its design and location: the Hanging Monastery is hanging on the cliff that is between the mountaintop and the valley, and the projecting part of the cliff functions like an umbrella to prevent the Monastery from the sun as well as the rain; it is invulnerable to the flood as well owing to being on the cliff, which are very helpful to preserving the temple. It stands motionless after several big earthquakes from different dynasties, which is really a miracle in the history of architecture.
The hanging characteristic is the second highlight of the monastery: there are 40 halls and pavilions in the Hanging Monastery in all. The monastery is propped by tens of wood pillars, of which some are not actually functioning, only functioning as decorations. So it is the crystallization of the wisdom of the working people in ancient times. The crossbeams that are dipped into tung oil are inserted into the rock, with the rock as the base, so the crossbeams are not only steady in structure, but also they are anti-corrosive, which prevent the white ants from biting. Seen from below, the monastery is just like a castle in the air, which is very attractive and fascinating.
The ingenious characteristic is the third highlight of the monastery, which is embodied by its design suiting the measures to local conditions, making fully use of the allotments of natural condition among the different architectures as well as creating the three-dimensional space instead of the common plane distribution. The Entrance Gate, the Drum Tower, the Bell Tower, the main hall and the affiliated hall are all skillfully distributed in the monastery.
Besides, there are also lots of castings of different sizes and shapes that are made of copper, iron, clay and stone, which have high art value. There are many famous poets and travelers from ancient times to the present coming here for visiting, among whom the most important ones are Li Bai the greatest romantic poet in the Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.) and Xu Xiake the greatest traveler in the Ming Dynasty (1,368- A.D.-1,644 A.D.). Libai wrote two words “Zhuang Guan” on the wall of the cliff, which means spectacle in English. And Xu Xiake called the monastery “a Miracle under the Sun”.
The Hanging Monastery is 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Datong City center in Shanxi Province of China, and you can take a coach from Datong City to Hunyuan County, and then transfer a bus No. 10、11、12、48 and 65 from Hunyuan County to the Hanging Monastery. You can also take a sightseeing bus to get there directly from Datong City. It is open to the public from 8：30 am to 5：30 pm in winter and from 8：00 am to 6：00 pm in summer every day.